Author: scrooloose

I've been a gamer since a young age, my first experiences were with my old Atari 2600. Nowadays I'm mostly a PC guy but I also play board games when I have the group for it. And I love wrenching on cars besides.

Calling all Space Marines

Some more Dawn of War badassery has been announced. Produced by Relic Entertainment, the same folks originally that gave us Space Marine (Now owned by Sega) this will be Dawn of War 3. The new installment claims to involve Orbital Lasers and various giant units. Just check out the trailer here on the official website. You'll have to provide some age verification to get in.

No release date yet, but by creating a Relic Account you can receive your own updates about the game, and there are even hints at rewards for doing so. Looks like a cool one I think. So far it looks to only be a PC title, but who knows? That could change.

Orcs Must Die Unchained – Open Beta Impressions

I have to start this by saying that this is a beta build and some things may change yadda yadda etc. whatever.

I happen to really like Orcs Must Die...

So last year some time when I started hearing of a third game game in the series I was pretty excited about it. The addition of a slew of new heroes to play each with their own styles and abilities and a leveling system and tons of new maps made me happy. So of course when Robot Entertainment opened up a beta for everyone to play I jumped on the boat, my thoughts follow.

Fans of the Orcs Must Die series like myself will find some similarities but only a few. First off it's all online play now and not just because of leader boards. Like OMD, players can bash orcs and ogres and kobolds to their hearts content in a survival mode facing waves of increasingly difficult enemies. And like OMD2, you'll also be able to team up with friends to do the same thing. That much is still fun and along with new hero types including the originals there's some variety in your game play. The problem is that OMD Unchained only looks like the first two titles that did everything right.

no traps here1
Can't place traps here on this flat and perfectly suitable surface. But just up the stairs there? Yeah that's fine
OMD2traps
This is a screenshot from Orcs Must Die 2. No more rooms filled to the brim with traps like that in Unchained

Now instead of a setup screen where you spend your hard earned skulls on traps and upgrades you'll instead have to build a deck of cards to go into battle with. The game gives you two decks, one for Survival Mode and one for Siege Mode which I'll talk about in a bit. Once you're in the game and playing you're stuck with what you've got in that deck, no more last minute changes before the round starts. And if you want to explore the map for optimal trap placement, you'd better do it quick because the round will start soon whether you're ready or not. You'll also have a limit on how many traps can be placed despite the amount of coin you've earned. Have enough money to fill the whole hallway with spikes and napalm and arrow traps all the way to the rift? Well as long as that's not more than 50 traps then that's great. Think 50 traps sounds like a lot? It's not. It should be noted that it's entirely possible that this number could increase at higher levels.

guardian space
That's where you're allowed to place a Guardian

Remember that some of the traps you had in OMD 1 and 2 included Archers and Paladins? Well in Unchained they've been replaced by the Guardian card. You'll only be able to place them where the map allows you to, on a predefined guardian platform, and they are pretty strong and help a ton but what happened to being able to put them where you felt like they were going to be the most effective?minimap Not mention, you only get one to use on your map. You'll have to earn more cards through matches and crafting, or buy a chest from the store and maybe get one, to be able to place more guardians. This rule is the same for all of your traps by the way, you can no longer place traps on any and all surfaces. Instead you'll need to put them in specific areas that are marked on the mini-map in blue. The game calls them "Killboxes" I call them "unnecessary limitations".

Robot just seems to have strayed too far from a great formula for this mode of game play to be enjoyable as a whole any more. I would probably really enjoy it if the Survival mode and Siege mode just had different systems. It makes sense in Siege for the placements and limitations to be the way they are, but not in Survival.

Leveling...

Is not as great as it seems like it would be. You'll be juggling your battlefield level, your hero level and account level. Battlefield levels are gained while playing a round and each will unlock a tier of boosts to help your character survive the oncoming hordes. They are temporary levels and will reset after each match. Hero levels are just what they state, a level rank given to whichever hero you're currently playing and seem to have little to no effect on play as of now, at least none that I could really notice. Your account level grants you access to new and more difficult maps to play.

The Heroes...

Themselves are pretty cool, with nice looking models and at least decent animations. There will be at least 15 heroes to choose from at release and those that are available to play now are fun. Everyone is different enough to be a separate entity, has their own strengths and weaknesses and feels very balanced in multiplayer. As it is now though, make sure you choose wisely because once you click a hero to play you can't change your mind until the match has ended. Meaning that even before the match starts an accidental click will mean that's the character you're playing as during this round.heroes

Game Creation...

Is pretty quick and straightforward, but it also has its limits. For instance, finding a multiplayer game is easy, just click on the matchmaker and you'll be in game soon enough. Want to make one yourself? That's easy too, add your friends via a very convenient invitation system, select a mode and you're off and running. But if you want to make a custom game things feel a little beta still. Only Siege games can be created in the custom tab, no Survival mode here. You'll get your friends together in a 5v5 match (no more, no less) choose teams and go. If you need bots then you'll have to set them up individually before you can begin. Admittedly though, the bots seem to be pretty decent at their jobs.custom game

The Store...

Ahh yes, the inevitable in-game store. I mentioned back in my recommendation for Marvel Heroes, that some titles pull off the free to play model pretty well. Orcs Must Die Unchained is NOT one of those games. Now the heroes and skins themselves are within reasonable limits even for this title, sitting around $5 to $10 each. What I have a problem with is the ability to purchase chests of random items that are guaranteed to contain things that will make a character stronger than others owned by people who don't want to spend money on this game. Pay to win isn't cool people, don't support it.

The good side to this...

Is that heroes are free to play albeit slightly gimped because experience gains won't be 100% until you purchase that character. Still, you'll be able to try everyone out once they're all available and get an idea of what you're in for before making a decision.

Maps are many and well designed. Despite the limits OMDU places on you, at least the usable areas are well made.

Siege mode...

Is pretty fun actually. This is clearly where Robot was heading with the core development of the game. Where the classic survival mode feels very different and overall bad, Siege mode feels solid and pretty refined. This is essentially a MOBA with the elements of traps from Orcs Must Die. Ten players, five on each side of a symmetrical map, fight to get their minions through the enemy rift. However lanes don't conflict with each other so your minions wont ever fight other minions. Instead your players will choose roles and become Attackers, Defenders or Pillagers and benefit the team in their own way all in the name of getting those friendly minions through enemy traps with the goal of getting them to the enemy's rift and wearing down their points. When a rift reaches zero points, the opposite team has won.siege modeDefenders will start with money to place traps and barricades in enemy attack lanes to help stop minions from reaching your team's rift. Attackers will start with a bonus to attacking and friendly minion defense, and the Pillagers will be more effective in collecting items from crates found around the map to upgrade minions.

When it all boils down, it's just a MOBA, but it's just different enough to feel like something new. And even for someone like myself who doesn't particularly like MOBAs, it's actually pretty fun. Yoda, myself and Twinstiq friend and my little sister, Phirary13 played a couple of matches that I'll link here in a kind of NSFW video due to our language. This recording includes some of the Survival mode as well, and any OMD fans will see the issues there. Though I will say that even the Survival mode is much more fun with friends.

The Deck Editor...

Has a lot of slots for decks, thank goodness. But why does this even need to be there? Why can't it just be earning traps by playing the game? Why does it need to be a CCG inside a Tower Defense game being overshadowed by a MOBA? The answer is because then players wouldn't have anything to grind out. Did I mention that you can craft cards? Well you can, and it takes a lot of materials that are gained by completing matches. What this does is drag out your play time because in order to get that next trap or guardian you'll need hundreds, if not thousands of skulls and dozens and dozens of materials that drop on certain maps. And it's not just materials, there's also a whole separate category of "parts"...Uuuurrrgghh why can't we just have a screen to purchase and upgrade gear and traps like there used to be? Why must it be so convoluted? It's just too much book keeping for such a simple game. deck editorAs I mentioned above you can purchase a chest from the store with real currency to possibly bypass the tedium of material farming but that's exactly what this system was designed for.

Conclusion...

What really sucks about this direction is that those of us who are fans of the OMD series and expect to have that great, wave on wave, tower defense game play will be severely disappointed. As of now there is no unlimited wave mode, only what the map calls for. Maybe this will change before release, maybe a lot of things will, but I'm certainly not holding my breath. This is an open beta and that usually means a release date is just around the corner.

It just feels like Robot was going for a Deathmatch / MOBA feel, and since it was called Orcs Must Die, they had to put some semblance of the original games in as an afterthought. And frankly that blows because no matter how much fun Siege Mode is, I can't recommend this game to anyone expecting Orcs Must Die Unchained to be anything like the great titles that came before it. Robot should have just called it what it is, Orcs Must Die: PVP Siege Arena.

 

System Requirements for Orcs Must Die Unchained are as follows

MINIMUM:

    • OS: Windows XP SP3
    • Processor: Intel Core2Duo 2.66GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 8 GB available space

 

Recommendation: Marvel Heroes 2016 – The ARPG You’ve Been Looking For

Alright well we've all seen free to play ARPG's out there and most of them are too good to be true. They allow you play to a certain level then charge you money to continue playing, or they lock specific gear you need to continue behind a pay wall or some such nonsense that makes an otherwise fun, free game, much less free or fun.

But some get it right. Path of Exile, for instance created and published by Grinding Gear Games, is a great fantasy ARPG. Nothing locked behind pay walls, and donations are made for cosmetic items only if you so choose. All content is free and fully accessible and the support is excellent. It remains one of the best examples of how the free to play model can really work. But let's say you're sick of the typical dungeon crawler, D&D fantasy style isometric Diablo clone ARPG.

Enter, Marvel Heroes. It pretty much speaks for itself but here's the rundown. You'll be a super hero or villain from the Marvel Universe and follow a very graphic novel style story that takes you around the world to see places like New York and the Savage Lands while giving you home bases like Avengers Tower and Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. The story is told through missions as you play of course, but also with some very cool comic book style cut scenes.XavierI've been playing this pretty consistently for a while now and I'm noticing that this another good example of a player friendly free to play model. So let's look at this game a bit and see why it's such a good experience. It's 100% free. You can grab Marvel Heroes on Steam if you have an account, or you can download it right from the source at the official site and soon enough you'll be confronted with a choice of what hero or villain you want to become. When you first start you'll have access to 12 heroes and after the prologue that number increases to 55 and more are still being added. Here's the current list of playable characters.

You'll be able to play every hero or villain until level 10 and then the game reminds you to remember to switch out heroes or choose to "uncap" the current one. They give you one hero for free to level all the way to 60 but want you to play as many as you can so that you can make an educated choice. I tried: War Machine, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, X-23, Juggernaut, The Thing, and Cable, to name a few (there were more) before finally deciding to continue on with Captain Marvel. The rest of the heroes and villains remain playable at any time you wish from just about anywhere in the game. So if you feel like you need a quick change just press "T" and choose a new hero; no need to log out and back in to switch. It's a pretty smooth operation.Marvel and SpiderWomanIt's important to remember that every playable character is free until level 10. I reiterate that because if you grab this game on Steam you'll see some fairly pricey DLC on the list that includes heroes. Those DLC packs include cosmetic items and alternate costumes which you can purchase separately in-game. They'll also uncap that hero for you but the most useful thing they include is a character specific inventory, which would actually be pretty great because inventory and stash space is shared and storage is kind of limited if you're going to play more than one hero. It's also important to know that if you do decide to uncap more than one hero you can do that via the game store with real money, or if you're patient you can collect "eternity splinters" (items that drop off enemies) and use them to purchase your next uncap. They aren't very rare and the game will even provide you with a pack of 400 of them as a login reward and that alone is enough to buy most heroes, they range from 200 to 600 splinters each. The point here is that you only need to spend actual money if you want to.

I've chosen to purchase an alternate costume for my Captain Marvel because it's not expensive to do so in most cases (some cost more than others) and I figured I'd support the title in at least a small way. And like most free to play games Marvel Heroes has deals and sales on bundles of items and the like pretty often.Need a sidekick? Get a team-up hero. The game will provide you with at least one, but all the playable heroes and some extras (like Carnage, Agent Venom and many more) can be purchased as a team-up. They have their own items and skills and gain levels just like you do. Plus if for some reason you need to go AFK for a bit they'll hang out and protect you.

My only real complaint is that I think this game needs a lot of balancing. Now don't get me wrong I know that it makes sense to be vastly powerful what with being a super being and all, but there's almost no challenge at all. It's possible to wipe a out a group of dozens of mobs with the use of one skill. In fact the only times I've been defeated since I started playing regularly are in the "Patrol maps" where everything is stronger and bosses come at you in multiples. To be fair though there is supposed to be end-game content for level 60 heroes that provide a much better challenge, but since I'm only level 41 at the time of this writing I can't speak to that myself. Also co-op play with friends will increase the difficulty of enemies on the map. blastSo there we have it, my recommendation to play a really good, friendly, free to play title with a great model. Marvel Heroes uses Unreal Engine 3 Engine so it runs great while looking great, and there's even a Mac port in case you use one of those things for games.

Our own Yoda0vgs introduced me to this in a sort of trial by fire live stream that we did a few days ago. You can see the video here on our Twinstiq LP channel, skip ahead to around the 11 minute mark to actually see us start playing.

System Requirements for Marvel Heroes are as follows

Windows

      • OS: Windows Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64, Windows 8 32/64, Windows 10 32-bit
      • Processor: Core 2 DUO 2.1 GHz / AMD Athlon X2 2.1 GHZ or better
      • Memory: 3GB
      • Hard Disk Space: 30GB*
      • Video Card: Shader Model 3.0 Compatible with 512MB VRAM (Nvidia 8800 Series, ATI HD3800 Series, Intel HD 3000)
    *30GB is required for installation. After installation, Marvel Heroes will require 15GB of storage.
      • OS: Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8 64-bit, Windows 10 64-bit
      • Processor: Current Generation Quad Core (Intel Core i7, Core i5 or AMD FX Series)
      • Memory: 8GB
      • Hard Disk Space: 30GB*
      • Video Card:Discrete video card with 2GB of VRAM (Nvidia GTX 600 or 700 Series, AMD R9 or HD7900 Series)
    *30GB is required for installation. After installation, Marvel Heroes will require 15GB of storage.

Mac

      • OS: OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion
      • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
      • Memory: 4GB
      • Hard Disk Space: 30GB*
      • Video Card: Discrete or Onboard GPU with 512MB VRAM (Nvidia 9600m GT, Intel HD 4000)
    *30GB is required for installation. After installation, Marvel Heroes will require 15GB of storage.
      • OS: OSX 10.10 Yosemite
      • Processor: Current Generation Quad Core (Intel Core i7, Core i5, Xeon)
      • Memory: 8GB
      • Hard Disk Space: 30GB*
      • Video Card: Discrete GPU with 2GB of VRAM (Nvidia GTX Series, AMD FirePro Series)
    *30GB is required for installation. After installation, Marvel Heroes will require 15GB of storage.

 

Hitman: First Impression- DRM Anyone? Update

UPDATE: Alright, so after playing through the Paris episode it does appear that cinematics are included along with each DLC addition. I can't say for sure they're not also sold separately since the frame is available for purchasing a cinematic. You can see for yourself in the fourth screenshot in this article.

And in the spirit of fairness, replayability has also taken another step higher by the "Contracts" mode. This is a game play option that allows players to create and post their own contracts in any of the playable missions and locations for others to play. Just enter the Contracts tab and create one for folks to check out or play one someone else has made. This screenshot explains the creation. For the original article, proceed below.contract

 

So recently I bought a new CPU and motherboard for my computer and with that came an activation code for the -Hitman, full experience-. The game went live this morning at 9am pacific time and I jumped in to see what's up with the newest iteration of Code Name 47's escapades. Here are my thoughts so far.

Upon startup I noticed that settings include quite a few options, one of which is the activation of DirectX 12. Hitman and Rise of the Tomb Raider, are two of the first games in the industry to receive the use of DX12 and I was pretty happy with the effects it's had on both. I'll say that I noticed no real visible difference in the look of either game, just that performance was far and away better.

I've been reading about people having issues with Hitman's performance. Crashing often, poor frame rates, stuck load screens etc. I can't speak to that since I have experienced none of those things personally. In fact the game loaded quite quickly for me once I had my options configured the way I wanted them and it runs on the highest settings I'm allowed at a consistent 60fps.

Now let's talk about that for a second, "...the highest settings I'm allowed". I can turn everything up as high as it will go except textures. They are stuck at medium, high is greyed out. This seems to be linked to graphics hardware. I myself have a 3GB card so I'm allowed to choose up to medium settings, cards with 2GB are limited to low. I'm not sure what it takes to run high because there's no explanation (none that I found as of yet anyway), could be 4GB could be 6GB. Hell, the aforementioned Rise of the Tomb Raider, wants more than 4GB of VRAM to run the highest texture resolutions, but it doesn't lock you out of trying it. Hopefully IO-Interactive will pay attention to people complaining about this and go ahead and unlock the settings. I won't hold my breath though. Worth noting here is the important fact that medium textures don't look too bad, but that doesn't mean I appreciate not having the choice to see for myself what the high setting would be like.47Game play itself is... well it's Hitman. Everything feels like traditional Code Name 47. Now, my last experience with a Hitman title was with Blood Money back on the PS2, and I liked it quite a bit. So after that everything added to the IP is new to me. That said, this latest installment has added some "features" I use the term lightly, like: talking with NPCs, being able to throw found objects at targets to knock them out, instinct mode and the ability to blend in to an environment to avoid suspicion. 47 has had occasions where he's had a voice before but not really (at least to my memory) in a way that could effect game play. That's not to say he has dialogue options or anything but it does seem that talking to, and listening to conversing NPCs can lead to intel on opportunities to help complete your mission. On the one hand that's pretty cool, on the other, 47 having a conversation with someone seems to be a bit out of character.

Instinct mode (hold CTRL on PC) will activate a kind of "Witcher senses" type deal and allow you to see and track targets through walls. You can turn this off in the settings if you wish. Aside from that it's still the good old -stalk your target, change your clothes, hide in plain sight- stealth assassination game we all like. And I have to admit that I do like it based on that at least. Instinct modeWhat I don't like is the play model. Hitman gives you the option to buy the Inroduction Pack for $15.00 which will give you access to basic content in the first episode. After that you can buy the Upgrade Pack for $49.99 and this will allow you to receive the rest of the game as it's released. Or you can spring for the $59.99 Full Experience and again I use the term loosely "have it all". What you actually get is the first episode just like everyone else, but you no longer have to upgrade to get the rest of the game as it's released. Essentially it's the game plus a season pass... blegh.purchase screenSo here's what you'll get when you start: The Prologue consists of three small, replayable training missions and a few cinematics. Yes, it appears they're even selling cinematics. You'll also get the Paris Episode, which I've yet to play since Steam hadn't yet installed it. That's being taken care of now as I'm writing. So for $15.00 you're probably getting an appropriate amount of content, selling cinematics (probably) as DLC though is pretty damn idiotic.

The Upgrade Pack is your season pass, and as mentioned above will allow content to be installed automatically as it's released. That's going to include six more episodes and five more locations to be released throughout 2016 starting in April. Presumably, you'll also be able to purchase episodes singly as DLC as they release.

One other thing to take into account is that you're locked into online play. Meaning if you lose your interwebs, you're booted from the game. At least there are auto saves so when you regain your connection you can probably just pick back up where you left off. There is an offline mode but it's separate and save games will not be compatible. Unfortunately for online play, down the line this could have the implication of service being stopped by Square Enix, and no longer being able to play at all.online onlySo based on my first impression would I recommend Hitman? Well, that depends. If you don't mind the DRM, the somewhat limited graphical options, or the possible pay walls then it might be worth it to you. It's still got a great feel, it's still 47 being a badass, untouchable assassin, it's pretty good as far as gameplay, it runs great (in my experience anyway) and for $15.00 you're getting content with quite a bit of replayability. On the other hand, if you're not alright with all that stuff, don't even look twice because you don't have a choice anyway. Let me say this. I wouldn't have bought this title if it hadn't accompanied a piece of hardware for my PC in the form of a redeemable code. training

System Requirements for Hitman are as follows

MINIMUM:
OS: OS 64-bit Windows 7
Processor: Intel CPU Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz / AMD CPU Phenom II X4 940
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 / Radeon HD 7870
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 50 GB available space

RECOMMENDED:
OS: OS 64-bit Windows 7 / 64-bit Windows 8 (8.1) or Windows 10
Processor: Intel CPU Core i7 3770 3,4 GHz / AMD CPU AMD FX-8350 4 GHz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 770 / AMD GPU Radeon R9 290
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 50 GB available space

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider gets DirectX 12 today: First in the industry, Kind of

As of today, March 11th, 2016, Rise of the Tomb Raider will implement one of the industry's first integrations of DirectX 12. This is great news.... really.

Steam users will automatically download the small 129mb patch and will expect to see some pretty big improvements in performance across the board. This doesn't mean that folks without Windows 10 can't play any more as DirectX 11 is still an option.

Grab the newest video drivers for your graphics cards to get the best performance as of yet. AMD users, make sure you choose the 16.3 hotfix driver suite.

Nvidia drivers here

AMD drivers here

I myself finally cracked and jumped on the Windows 10 bandwagon so I look forward to seeing the changes first hand.

You can read the patch notes here

And you can check out the dev blog post on the subject here

Some Good Stuff is Coming

With the end of #4if approaching quickly I was curious about what to do next. So I was looking at some article suggestions on our boards and one of those was the question of: Are there any games you're looking forward to in the near future? And I thought to myself, "Self, there are games you're looking forward to, you should write about that." Read more

I’ve Been Playing XCom 2…

And man it isn't messing around!

Those of you that have been playing it already know that XCom 2 is a step up from Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within. I was expecting a bit more of the same great game play that those previous titles handed us, but what XCom 2 doles out is nothing short of punishing. And it's excellent!menuscreenI'm only playing on normal difficulty and I'm having to reload saves several times per mission so that I'm not losing my veteran soldiers. I think by the third mission I played, my basic, barely promoted soldiers were already coming up against mechanical units and mind controlling Sectoids. No unit in this game is easy to go toe to toe with.

Each project that's researched, each improvement made is met with furious resistance. Just get your best soldiers healed up? Ready to take on that black site finally? Awesome, let's go... Well, now there's an urgent mission available, if it's skipped the enemy gets guaranteed reinforcements for a month... shit guess we gotta do that. At least we've got experimental armor for our soldiers... well they have heavy units with plasma weapons that can bypass armor... what now? Grenades, perfect, take that!... wait, Shield Bearers... They cast an energy shield on all of their allies in a radius that soaks up damage before allowing units to be vulnerable... Get up there with your power sword Rangers and slash that guy up!... Great but now we're out of cover... and oh good a Viper has come to bind our ranger and take them out of combat until they're either dead or the Viper takes damage... Now we have wounded soldiers and it'll take days or maybe weeks before we can assault that black site that we were so prepared for. Who knows what will happen between now and then?

It's like that every step of the way and it's wonderfully stressful. actionIf you were into XCom: Enemy Unknown, you're gonna be into XCom 2. Just be prepared to lose, a lot. If you're already playing XCom 2, good luck and godpseed Commander.